Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"I'm frustrated!"

Last night Chickie was putting her books back in the book drawer. Zoodle was doing his best to interfere with the process.

"Mommy," she said, "I'm frustrated that Zoodle is playing with the books!"

I was thrilled to hear that sentence come out of her mouth! Over a year ago, I didn't know how to handle some aggression in Chickie--in particular, she was hitting other kids. An experienced mama advised me, "When she's upset, say, 'That must really be frustrating for you.' Eventually, you'll hear her tell you she's frustrated."

The idea is to help Chickie learn to use words to deal with negative emotions, instead of turning to aggression or tantrums. And whaddya know--I guess it's working! Now, I'm not totally naive--we'll probably deal with a lot more tantrums (likely at least one tomorrow!)

But hopefully I'll hear "I'm frustrated" more and more often as she grows, and hear whining tantrums less and less often. Not only is it more productive, but "I'm frustrated" sounds really cute in her high-pitched, three-year-old voice.


(By the way, the mom who gave me this advice recommended a great book, where she'd learned this principle: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.)


Sandra said...

What wonderful advice that other mommy gave you! I don't know if she's someone permanent in your life, or just someone who passed through, but she'll always be remembered as a bearer of good advice, won't she. I love how God blesses us through those around us.

Anna said...

That's awesome!
unfortunately it's a lot easier to get girls to use words to vent their frustration than it is for boys...believe me I've been trying for 10 years.

C. Beth said...

I wanted to add something to this post--besides saying, "You must be frustrated," I've also specifically told Chickie (numerous times), "Instead of yelling, you can say, 'Mommy, I'm frustrated!'" I think modeling is crucial, but the straight-forward teaching is helpful too!

Sandra--I agree! She was someone I only met twice, a La Leche League Leader.

Anna--I will probably be noticing that difference in several months when Zoodle starts using more words!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Beth! This little tidbit just came in the nick of time! Though I have said and done this with Ian for a very long time, I often need to be reminded that it will work one day...Thanks! And I am getting that book from the library! We have had too many tantrum filled mornings before work, including this morning where I screamed and yelled and threw my own tantrum out of frustration! I felt so guilty. :( I even stayed home with him to play for a bit before bringing him to daycare and me going to work late! Ugh! He still cried and screamed when I brought him and wouldn't take off his coat and generally was feeling frustrated again! Obviously I need help! lol! :)

Becky said...

I think I remember you mentioning that book - I believe it was written by the same author as a book I found really valuable - Siblings Without Rivalry. I use that same technique and it's amazing to see the results! I agree, hearing "I'm getting vewy fwustwated/angwy with you" is so cute (unless it's directed at me - then it's decidedly less cute). Or another one we hear a lot at our house is, "My wittle sistah is such a pest sometimes."

Not that he doesn't sometimes forget to use his words instead of his hands. But the moments that he remembers - priceless!

Call Me Cate said...

Definitely more adorable than screeching or bonking Zoodle with a book (which I'm sure would mean additional screeching).

Eternal Lizdom said...

Given that you recognize the power of language in parenting, I'd also recommend reading books by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller. My faves include "Parent Talk" and "The 10 Commitments" and "The Only 3 Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need." All focus on langauge and its power.

H.K. said...

You should record Chickie saying, "I'm frustrated" on your pod cast. That would be funny!

- When my son was 3 years old, he used to throw things when he was angry. I told him if he was going to throw things, he had to use his own toys and he had to do it in his room.

- He did that only 2-3 times and then realized he was breaking toys that he loved. He saw the consequence of what he was doing and stopped!

Deanna said...

That's great! We've found that really helpful with our son, so it does work for some boys!

Our next step as Zack got older was to give some standard options for when you are frustrated - three choices of things that might help anybody (like Mommy, haha!).

Scriptor Senex said...

I like the title of the book - two important things for parents to learn.

*Monica said...

We LOVE this. Hearing them say new things!

Anonymous said...

Great advice that is! I need to implement that with Lilly; and even start it with Kaity too.

As a side note; I wanted to tell you that I am loving that you have the BlogHer ad for the Liz Logelin foundation. Their story is truly sad happy and inspirational all in one.

C. Beth said...

Marissa--We get a lot of attitude and tantrums around here these days too. You are definitely not alone!

Becky--Yes, it is the same authors! I really need to get Siblings Without Rivalry.

Call Me Cate--Do you have a hidden camera in our house? Based on your post it sounds like you know exactly what happens around here.... :)

Liz--Those books sound great! Thanks for the recommendation!

H.K.--Great idea! She is such a little talker; it would be fun to get her to talk on the podcast. It sounds like you really taught your son personal responsibility--great job, mama!

Deanna--Can you give examples of what types of choices? We do a lot of the "choices" stuff here too but I'd like to hear how you're doing it.

Scriptor--Definitely! I really should buy the book--I borrowed it, and it's one that is worth having in my library long-term.

Monica--It's so much fun hering what they come up with!

Ginger--I'll have to look into the Liz Longelin thing! I don't know anything about it (even though it's on the ad!) Hope the "frustrated" thing works for your kiddos!

Deanna said...

Hey again! For Frustrated we used 1) Take a deep breath then try again, 2) Ask for help, and 3) Do something else for a while, you can always come back to it.

We had a stretch where he would get lonely and cry at preschool too, so we did a set for Sad: 1) Ask your teacher for a hug, 2) Pray to God about feeling sad, and 3) Hold up your Kissing Hand.

(The Kissing Hand is a cute book that was a big help to us!)

I'm going to check out the book you recommended, thanks!

caryn said...
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caryn said...


Thanks for posting this. I'm FTM and my little girl is only 10.5 months but I'm sure I'll need this advice before you know it.

Now you are the experienced mama passing this great tip along.